As is often the case, the greatest attention on this week’s Southeastern Conference games centers on Alabama. The Crimson Tide is hosting the nation’s number one team in Mississippi State, which makes the game not only tops in the SEC, but also in the country.
There is a rumor, unconfirmed and unlikely, that some members of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee plan to watch at least part of the game. This sounds like an urban myth, along the lines of FSU wanting to reach a correct decision on the status of Jameis Winston.
Obviously, the APP panel could be distracted by so many issues to consider, but here are its best efforts predicting the outcome of SEC games…with no delay.
Mississippi State (9-0 overall, 5-0 SEC) at Alabama (8-1, 5-1), 2:30 p.m. CST on CBS – The Crimson Tide, historically, has had reasonably good results in its games against teams ranked first in the nation. Bama’s two most recent national championships, in 2011 and 2012, were the result of victories over No. 1 teams. Alabama also has had good success against Mississippi State over the years. All of which means nothing. What does mean something is that the Tide has played much better at home. If both teams play their best, it should be good for Bama. Alabama 27, Bulldogs 17.
Auburn (7-2, 4-2) at Georgia (7-2, 5-2), 7:15 p.m. EST, 6:15 central, on ESPN – Two teams that like to play against defenses that can’t tackle are in luck this weekend. The question bcomes, then, which offense is most effective. Georgia gets the Gurley man back this week which should be a plus for the Bulldogs. Home field advantage doesn’t usually mean much in this series. Georgia gave the game away last year, but should get the win Saturday. Georgia 41, Auburn 38.
LSU (7-3, 3-3) at Arkansas (4-5, 0-5), 7 pm. CST on ESPN2 – Everything about this game just screams “Pick the Razorbacks!” even though Arkansas hasn’t won an SEC game since Mississippi State was a .500 team. And that’s part of the urge to go with the Hogs. They have played well and the law of averages is that eventually they will win. They are also getting an LSU team coming off an emotional loss to Alabama. Maybe next year, Arkansas. Tigers 24, Arkansas 20.
Missouri (7-2, 4-1) at Texas A&M (7-3, 3-3), 6:30 p.m. CST, SEC Network – It’s a battle of football gypsies, former Big 12 teams that migrated to the SEC and have been more than respectable, though somewhat less than consistent. The Tigers have a lot on the line as they make a bid for an unlikely second consecutive trip to the SEC Championship Game. The Aggies may have had problems coming back down from their fortunate win at Auburn last week. A&M also has been inconsistent, but the Aggies can score (well, not against Alabama). Aggies 41, Tigers 38.
South Carolina (4-5, 2-5) at Florida (5-3, 4-3), Noon EST, 11 a.m. central, on SEC Network – The self-proclaimed Ball Coach hasn’t had a lot to say recently about his Gamecocks. Unlike some coaches who go back to old haunts (such as to LSU), Florida is generally friendly to its former star player and coach. The Gators, though, have been trending up, while the Gamecocks have been falling like Ball Coach headsets. Florida 34, South Carolina 20.
Kentucky (5-5, 2-5) at Tennessee (4-5, 1-4), 4 p.m. EST, 3 p.m. central, on SEC Network – Once upon a time, this was just part of Tennessee’s November cupcakes of Ole Miss, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt. Every year we would hear the latest statistics of how great the Vols were in November, with no mention that the three bums of the week had a combined record of about 6-25. This year’s game is huge from this respect: the winner is likely going bowling and the loser is a long shot for post-season play. Tennessee 33, Kentucky 24.
For the year, APP has been very good at picking the winners, a record of 73-15 in all games involving SEC teams. We have also been consistent in warning – begging, even – that these predictions not be worth the risk of real money. In gambling terms – against the spread and the over-under – the APP is only 76-59.